Tell us about yourself.
My name is Chrystal Neal and I am the Senior Vice President of Strategy & Brand at ChamberRVA. I came to work in the nonprofit field by a circuitous path. I graduated from University of Richmond with a B.A. in Economics and worked as an economic analyst for NASA before going to law school at the University of Virginia School of Law. After practicing for nearly 18 years, most recently at Hunton & Williams, I decided to stay home full-time for several years while my children were small. During that time, I served in a volunteer capacity on the Children’s Hospital Junior Board, and knew from that point on that when I went back to work I wanted to pursue a passion-driven career giving back to the community. Once my youngest children – twins – entered kindergarten 11 years ago, I was hired as the Executive Director of C3: The Creative Change Center whose mission is to promote RVA’s creative community to attract and retain millennials so that our community thrives by filling our workforce needs. We partnered with ChamberRVA to launch the i.e.* initiative with the same purpose, but on the larger Chamber platform, and I joined ChamberRVA full-time. Since joining ChamberRVA my role has expanded exponentially, and now in addition to running the i.e.* initiative, I am responsible for all marketing and communications, sponsorship development, lead investor relations and our small business programming known as the “Thrive Network.”
What’s the focus of your work?
The focus of my work is for ChamberRVA to be the voice of the business community both locally, to provide a unified message to move the region forward, and on a national scale to garner coast-to -coast recognition for what makes RVA cool, progressive and interesting in order to attract millennial talent.
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding aspect of my work is that we actually are making a difference. I see the needle moving. RVA is gaining the national recognition that we deserve and people of all ages are attracted to visiting and moving to RVA.
Above: ChamberRVA has a new program – Mission Tomorrow, the Richmond region’s first interactive career exploration event for 8th grade students. Over 12,000 students are expected to participate this year.The event will be held October 27– 28, 2016, at the Richmond International Raceway.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in this role?
My biggest accomplishment in this position is the brand refresh we just implemented this past spring: we changed our name from “Greater Richmond Chamber” to embrace the organic evolution of the moniker for our region, “RVA.” With the brand refresh to “ChamberRVA” came a fresh new logo, an office move to progressive, glass-filled new space and the launch of a brand new modern, mobile-friendly website.
What’s coming next that excites you?
I am excited about ChamberRVA’s next chapter now that we have refreshed our brand. We are engaged in large community conversations related to economic development happening around the Richmond Marine Terminal that will lead to workforce development opportunities for people currently living in poverty, and will bring even more economic prosperity to our region.
How are you using ConnectVA to advance your mission?
ChamberRVA hosts variety of events throughout the region, and we use the ConnectVA platform to post our events. Often people tell us that they learned of our events through the ConnectVA platform.